During the classic days of Hollywood, studios were known for creating a certain type of film. Universal was known for their horror movies, Warner Brothers for their gangster films, and so on. Today, however, each movie studio distributes a wide variety of films from practically every genre. Still, if there is one studio around that is thought of as making a specific type of film it would be Walt Disney Pictures. For years Disney has been labeled as the studio that makes family films people of all ages will enjoy. Unfortunately, its latest movie, “Max Keeble’s Big Move,” isn’t one of them.
“Max Keeble’s Big Move” focuses on Max Keeble (Alex D. Linz, the kid who replaced Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone 3”), a seventh grader whose optimistic about his first day of junior high. When he gets thrown in a trash can by the school bully and then gets yelled at by the school’s principal (Larry Miller) for disrupting the ‘welcome back to school’ assembly, however, Max soon realizes that junior high is no different than elementary school– the little guys always get picked on.
Once Max gets home from his first day of school though, he discovers that his parents have some big news for him: his father just got transferred at work, so the whole family is moving to Chicago at the end of the week. While Max is upset by the news at first, he soon sees his father’s transfer as an opportunity to finally show the world that the big guys don’t always get the last laugh. With less than a week left in town, Max sets out to get revenge on all his school bullies, whether they be his age or older than his mother. But when Max’s dad doesn’t have to move after all, Max soon finds himself wanted by everyone in the entire school– including the few friends he once had.
Although “Max Keeble’s Big Move” could have easily entertained both the young and old since being picked on in school is a universal occurrence, chances are that only kids will find the movie funny and entertaining. The script, written by Jonathan Bernstein, Mark Blackwell, James Greer and David Watts, is very elementary and has little to no jokes for the older audience members. Unlike other Disney films, which usually have humor in them targeted specifically for the older audience, “Max Keeble’s Big Move” only has a handful of cameos (Jamie Kennedy, Tony Hawk, Lil’ Romeo and “Malcolm in the Middle” co-star Justin Berfield) that are meant to entertain those over the age of 12. Even having “Saved by the Bell”‘s Dennis Haskins– a.k.a. Mr. Belding– appear briefly in the film can’t keep teenagers’ eyes on the screen for long, and one would think that they would be next in line for the movie’s target demographic seeing as they too can currently relate to the story.
Another surprise with “Max Keeble’s Big Move” is how slow the story develops. Viewers already know from the trailers that Max finds out he’s moving, plans to get revenge on his bullies before he leaves, gets the revenge and then doesn’t move after all, but yet director Tim Hill takes forever to get to each part of the film. Hill leaves in so many unnecessary scenes– including the opening dream sequence which is too ridiculous for words– that it takes almost a half-hour before Max even hears the news that he is moving. Worse yet, Hill waits almost an hour later to have Max find out he isn’t moving after all. Since viewers already know walking into the film that Max gets his revenge and then has to face his enemies afterwards, the film’s focus should be on the aftermath of Max’s actions. Instead, Hill ends the film an abrupt fifteen minutes or so after Max hears the news that he isn’t moving, making a majority of the film stuff viewers already knew thanks to the trailers.
As for the film’s casting, while Alex D. Linz may have done a fair job in “Home Alone 3” and “One Fine Day,” Linz doesn’t fit the part of Max Keeble at all. Although he is 12 years old, Linz looks 8 next to his cast of co-stars, making his believability as a seventh grader hard to buy. Not only that, but teaming him up opposite the 1999 Miss Junior America pageant winner Brooke Anne Smith is probably the funniest thing in the whole movie. The two look so drastically different age-wise (she’s probably a good foot taller than him) that anyone who believes for a moment that she could fall for Linz’s character needs their head examined.
Now sure kids probably won’t care how believable the “love” interest is in the film or how predictable the story is, but adults and teenagers will, and that will prevent “Max Keeble’s Big Move” from ever becoming as huge of a success as Disney’s last family film, The Princess Diaries. Even though children will probably enjoy the film, without any intelligent humor or surprises, “Max Keeble’s Big Move” will definitely disappoint those who were born before 1988.